12.31.2009

herb focaccia



Today I wanted to share a recipe that I tried out yesterday.  I made Rosemary Focaccia from the Veganomicon cookbook and...yumm! This stuff is great to dip in soups (like I did for lunch, with a hearty vegetable soup) but it's also great for sandwiches. To finish it off today for lunch, my mom suggested covering it with sliced onions, olive oil and oregano and then sending it back to the oven for a new take on "Fugazza" (a very common [and vegan!] pizza we eat in Argentina that has yet to take the U.S. by storm). Can't wait!!

So, here's the recipe:

Fresh Rosemary Focacia  pp 220. Veganomicon

"Try experimenting with different fresh herbs and chopped olives, serving this with hummus or dips"

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 tablesoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra whole leaves for garnish
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoonk salt
olive oilfor brushing
coarse salt for garnish
optional stuff to knead into the dough: chopped kalamata olives, sauteed shallots, cracked black pepper, chopped fresh sage, parsley, or oregano

Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, chopped rosemary, and flour, and knead to form a soft dough. If the dough is sticky, work in a little flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes until smooth. Pour a little olive oil in the original bowl, add the kneaded dough, and turn a few times to coat the dough with oil. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise 1 hour, or until a hole poked into the side of the risen dough fills up lowly.

Punch down the dough, return it to the floured surface, and knead a few times. Then, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Poke several holes into the dough with a fork, sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary leaves, and brush with a little oil (or even soy milk, for a matte finish). Cover again with dish towel and let rise for 20 minutes. While the dough is rising for the second time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the bread is lightly browned and firm. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.


Enjoy the last day of this year, and look forward to all the things to improve, nourish and share in 2010! 

Now I'm off to slice some onions!

12.30.2009

Vegans and Honey

I’ll start by saying that this has been the hardest week for me yet. I had a lot of temptations put in front of me, and I did not always make decisions that I agreed with or that I am proud of. With that said, I am re-committing myself to the vegan lifestyle. I’m trying not to be such an “absolutist” about it, but it is hard when your mind and heart are telling you one thing, yet it seems that your tastebuds and your drunken palette are telling you another thing! But that’s what we’re here for…..to support each other….and to not judge each other. So, hey, to a better week next week, a better year next year, and a better decade next decade…….and that will all be starting on Saturday!

Last week I mentioned that I’d discuss the honey and veganism topic. I’ll start by giving a definition of veganism. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines veganism as “a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also : one who abstains from using animal products (as leather)”. Honey would obviously categorize as an animal product because it comes directly from bees. The vegans who do not consume honey have various reasons. Here are a couple quick and dry reasons for why vegans do not consume honey.

For one, some vegans argue that even the use of animal products is exploitative. They believe that if we are taking the bodily fluid of an animal for our use, then we are exploiting and using them. Secondly, some vegans do not consume honey because they believe that bees are harmed in the process of getting their honey to our table. This quote came from an article on the PETA website: “Beekeeping is big business, to be sure: 15 to 30 percent of all food crops depend on bees for pollination. Like all factory farming, beekeeping has morphed into an industrial process which puts profits ahead of animal concerns. Commercial beekeepers truck some 2.4 million hives all over the country to track seasonal crops. These journeys clobber the bees with physiological stress, pesticides, diseases, and related disorders.”

So, what are your thoughts? Does consuming honey bother you? Will you stop eating honey yourself? I still have honey in my pantry, but I do not think I will buy any more once it is gone. It doesn’t sit well with me that the bees could actually be harmed in the “factory farming” industrial process. And is it really necessary? Though I will say that I don’t have that cut and dry feeling that I did with not wanting to eat meat any more. Also, there are such good alternatives to honey, that I don’t think that you can really miss honey. Between agave nectar and maple syrup, you’re pretty much covered.

A safe and happy new year to everyone!

12.29.2009

Feeding Livestock, Hungry People and Fossil Fuel Calories


Hola hermanas y hermanos! For today's topic I wanted to share some very important information about world hunger, fast food and the calories of fossil fuel needed to produce grains vs. beef.

One reason for the increase in meat consumption is the rise of fast-food restaurants as an American dietary staple. As Eric Schlosser noted in his best-selling book Fast Food Nation, “Americans now spend more money on fast food—$110 billion a year—than they do on higher education. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music—combined.”

Strong growth in meat production and consumption continues despite mounting evidence that meat-based diets are unhealthy, and that just about every aspect of meat production—from grazing-related loss of cropland and open space, to the inefficiencies of feeding vast quantities of water and grain to cattle in a hungry world, to pollution from “factory farms”—is an environmental disaster with wide and sometimes catastrophic consequences. Oregon State University agriculture professor Peter Cheeke calls factory farming “a frontal assault on the environment, with massive groundwater and air pollution problems.”

The 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle to produce one pound of beef for human beings represents a colossal waste of resources in a world still teeming with people who suffer from profound hunger and malnutrition.

According to the British group Vegfam, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle. Britain—with 56 million people—could support a population of 250 million on an all-vegetable diet. Because 90 percent of U.S. and European meat eaters’ grain consumption is indirect (first being fed to animals), westerners each consume 2,000 pounds of grain a year. Most grain in underdeveloped countries is consumed directly.

While it is true that many animals graze on land that would be unsuitable for cultivation, the demand for meat has taken millions of productive acres away from farm inventories. The cost of that is incalculable. As Diet For a Small Planet author Frances Moore Lappé writes, imagine sitting down to an eight-ounce steak. “Then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls in front of them. For the ‘feed cost’ of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of cooked cereal grains.”

Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer estimates that reducing meat production by just 10 percent in the U.S. would free enough grain to feed 60 million people. Authors Paul and Anne Ehrlich note that a pound of wheat can be grown with 60 pounds of water, whereas a pound of meat requires 2,500 to 6,000 pounds. (Info retrieved from: http://www.emagazine.com/view/?142)

The following information was taken from the book "The Food Revolution" pg. 292, these estimates might be a bit outdated but still important to think about:

U.S. corn eaten by people: 2%

U.S. corn eaten by livestock: 77%

U.S. farmland producing vegetables: 4 million acres

U.S. farmland producing hay for livestock: 56 million acres

U.S Grain and cereals fed to livestock: 70%

Human beings who could be fed by the grains and soybeans eaten by U.S. livestock: 1,400,000,000

World's population living in the United States: 4%

World's beef eaten in the United States: 23%

The following information was taken from the book "The Food Revolution" pg. 266, these estimates might be a bit outdated but again, still important to think about:

Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2

Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from corn or wheat: 3

Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from beef: 54

Amount of greenhouse-warming carbon gas released by driving a typical American car, in one day: 3 kilograms

Amount released by clearing and burning enough Costa Rican rainforest to produce beef for one hamburger: 75 kilograms

I will now leave with one suggestion in mind....if you are one who cares about the environment, before you consider getting a hybrid or electric car, think about consuming less beef or maybe even none at all....wouldn't it be nice to keep the rainforest alive and well? I think we need them in order to survive!!!

Be healthy in mind, body and soul and live in harmony with the earth!

Crafty Vegan



12.28.2009

Wannabe Vegan Here!

Surprise, Surprise, I'm still on the vegan rollercoaster. I think the only time I can eat vegan is when my baby sisters cook for me. They are all encouraging me to watch Earthlings, but I keep putting it off. I think I'm afraid because I will finally have to look veganism straight in the face! Since New Years Eve is right around the corner I guess now would be a good a time as any to have a New Years resolution to be vegan. Maybe then I'll be able to stick to it. Please cross your fingers for me....on second thought cross anything you can, I'll need it!

Happy New Year!!

12.24.2009

vegan bloggers: doin' it right

I love blogs. I especially love vegan blogs because they share yummy recipes I can't wait to try for myself, tell me about a wonderful veg restaurant, or address common vegan issues in a personal, sincere and eloquent way.

In a future post I'll maybe provide a list of the vegan-themed blogs I adore, but today I'm just going to give you a taste...

http://girliegirlarmy.com/ provides excellent posts/articles about a variety of topics related to veganism written by diverse, talented authors. 
Today I read (yesterday's) article "Sorry Natalie, Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right." It's a response to a New York Times published article in which the author suggests that eating vegetables is *as* inhumane as eating sentient beings such as animals. It's a subject that every vegan must tackle at some point--there are always going to be people trying to trip up your argument, your values, or treat you as if you're some self-entitled morally-superior bigot. I believe that Joshua Katcher provides a very level-headed and justified response and is entirely worth a read considering that you're reading this, which means you're an open-minded person (vegan doesn't even matter, it's just plain logical!).

Enjoy! and happy eating!

Ecoooooooooovegan

12.23.2009

Can I have a holiday party and have vegan food for my guests without freaking them out?

The answer is yes!!! This past weekend we at our apartment had a holiday party, and I had the task of creating a party menu for approx 30-40 ppl of which maybe 2 of them are vegetarians (no vegans). Sounds like a doozy, right? Well, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I got compliments all night on the food! Also, our budget was extremely tight, so we had to be sure to watch our overall spending.

Now, if you knew our friends, you’d know that they are drinkers. And I mean big time drinkers. We’re all in our mid-late 20s and still think we can party like we did when we were 21! Myself included. So I spent most of the next day recovering (and that did involve some cheese, I might add). But Saturday was a success, so I am proud of that.

Here is the menu below (note that I had to stay carb heavy so as to counteract the amount of booze that was being consumed). I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of trashed people with nothing in their stomach! Not a good combination!

Pita and Hummus (store bought)
Chips and Salsa (store bought)
Artichoke Canapes (recipe below)
Macaroni salad (recipe below)
Bok choy salad (recipe was posted last week)
Cornbread and honey butter (recipe below)
Homemade Chex Mix (recipe below)

One other element I was dealing with was a lack of time (I’m sure everyone can relate). I did not have the time to make EVERYTHING from scratch…so I had to cheat and do store bought where I could. Also, since I wasn’t in vegan company, I thought it would be best to start with regular non-vegan recipes and just tweak them to suit my dietary needs. That way people were eating things that were familiar to them, and I was not eating inhumanely!

*Note I did not take pictures, because I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I wish I did though……it looked amazing!

Artichoke Canapes
(this recipe was pulled out of an InStyle mag about 5 years ago!)

Cut up marinated artichoke hearts (a 7 ½ oz jar)
Toasted white bread cut into squares (approx 16-20 squares)
6 tbsp mayo (I used Wildwood garlic aioli instead)
3 tsp parmesan (I used my alternative-recipe below)
2 tsp minced shallots

*1 part nutritional yeast flakes and 1 part unhulled sesame seeds-grind in a coffee grinder)

Put a piece of artichoke hearts on top of the toast pieces and spread the mixture over the top. Broil for 2-3 minutes and serve hot.

Macaroni Salad
(this is my grandfathers recipe, which I am proud to serve!)

1 package uncooked macaroni pasta
4 tbsp Veganaise (original recipe called for mayo)
1 can chopped olives (drained, but reserve the liquid)
2 stalks celery, diced
½ onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
4 shakes Worcestershire sauce*
Salt and pepper
Pinch dried oregano
Pinch dried parsley

Mix all ingredients into the bottom of a bowl, except for the pasta. Boil the pasta and drain. Mix the pasta with the sauce, chill, and serve. Add in olive juice as needed to maintain moistness.

*I just noticed that Worcestershire sauce has anchovies as an ingredient. I didn’t know or suspect that. I am sure there is an alternative though.

Cornbread and Honey* Butter (I am not sure where I got this recipe)

1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
1 ½ cups flour
6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups soy milk or rice milk
2 large eggs (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer instead)
½ cup corn oil

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Oil a 9 inch square baking pan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a second large bowl whisk together soy milk, eggs or egg replacer, and oil. Add milk mixture to cornmeal mixture and stir until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick.

For the honey butter I just mix Earth Balance and honey together and there you have it.

*I have not stopped eating honey myself. Other vegans I’m sure would disagree. But that’s what makes this blog so wonderful….that we all have different opinions and viewpoints. I personally have not seen or read of any reasons for not eating honey, so I have not made that change. For next week, I will research into it and report back for those that are interested. It will be a learning experience for me too!

Homemade Chex Mix
(from July/Aug issue of Weight Watchers magazine)

6 tbsp light butter (I used Earth Balance)
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
5 cups rice chex cereal
5 cups corn chex cereal
1cup tiny pretzel twists
1/3 cup lightly salted peanuts (watch out for nut allergies)

Place the butter in a 5-6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook until melted, about 5 minutes on high. Add the curry powder, soy sauce, sugar, paprika, cumin, and salt; mix well. Add the remaining ingredients; mix well. Cook, uncovered, about 45 minutes, stirring well every 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is crisp and fragrant, 3-4 hours. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.

12.22.2009

2 Videos Introduce Too Many Important Issues

Following are a couple of videos I came across recently....

Video #1-A brief explanation of the video, the reality behind it and the link...

Pink and Rick Gervais are the voices of a rabbit and an alligator who are trying to get their skins back. It is a terrific 30 second ad unveiled by designer Stella McCartney during Paris Fashion Week. This video makes the case that exotic skins are stolen goods! there is nothing humane about depriving these animals from their behavioral and physiological needs. Fur farming is nothing more than institutionalized torture. On fur factory farms and squalid backyard operations around the world, over 45 million animals, including raccoon dogs, rabbits, foxes, mink and chinchillas, spend their short lives in tiny wire cages until they are killed by methods such as neck-breaking and anal electrocution. Raccoon dog fur from China—where the animals are smashed to the ground, and live skinning takes place—is being sold in the United States.
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCaDOpsHMsw

Video #2-A brief explanation and the link...

"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians" narrated by Paul McCartney, this video is a must see. I have to warn you, it's not pretty! But I do think it's something every human must see. It's not fair that this information is hidden from most of us and farm animals continue suffering. Please watch this for your own well-being and pass it along. There is also an option thru the link to add this video to your facebook or myspace.
Link: http://www.meat.org/

12.21.2009

Wannabe Vegan Here!

It's the wannabe vegan here and let me tell you....I have not only fallen off the vegan wagon, I've fallen off the vegetarian wagon!! I don't know if its the holidays or the fact I'm not a very good cook, but I fell off the wagon hard! I'm really looking forward Christmas dinner with my sisters who I know will have an amazing vegan feast prepared. I need to rely on their steadfast conviction to veganism. I do not have enough willpower myself, its pretty sad but true.

Keep your fingers crossed for me,

Wannabe vegan

12.18.2009

Vegan Handmade

Today I wanted to introduce you all to the down-home side of veganism with handmade goodies!

Vegan Recycled Vinyl Cuff from jakrandomart.

Both Crafty Vegan and I have shops on Etsy, an online marketplace for all things handmade.  Within Etsy there are a variety of Teams (groups of organized Etsy members) "who network, share skills, and promote their shops and Etsy together," forming around a shared location, crafting medium, or another interest.
So, it will come as no surprise to you that I'm a part of Etsy for Animals (group of over 500 artists & suppliers combining their efforts to provide charitable relief to animals) and Vegan Etsy (made up of vegans that maintain completely vegan shops).

I highly encourage you to explore Etsy if you never have--it's pretty fun, time flies as you browse and browse and browse beautiful stuff--and I especially invite you to look into Etsy for Animals and Vegan Etsy for cruelty-free, good-intentioned art and supplies.

Below is a taste of what these talented people have to offer. I chose a variety of media so that you can see the wide range of "vegan crafts" on Etsy. Enjoy!



Delectable Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies from asacco9642

 
















Vegan serving platter by Vegan Dish

How great are all those items? Beautiful, practical, cruelty-free and your money goes to charities or supporting small business rather than irresponsible and exploitative conglomerates...That's not just vegan goodness, that's all around awesome!

Also, today marks my etsy shop's 1 year anniversary! In honor of this occasion, I'm offering free shipping on ALL items and a special to all our readers: 15% off your order when you type in 'Veg Hermana' in the box upon checkout today only... so don't miss it!





Enjoy your weekend! Go outside, find natural wildlife in the most urban of spaces, pick up some trash, go to the farmer's market, cook something vegan and delicious for someone you love, and take time for yourself.

be well!

12.17.2009

The road to strong bones is a land of green

We all try to be healthy, vegan and non-vegans alike.  But, try is the operative word, being that it's simply something we occassionally consider rather than being a priority in our daily food choices (anyone that's ever eaten anything deep-fried can attest to that). An even when it is a priority, it's hard to know exactly what is better for our bodies. 
Take a mineral like calcium for example.  Is is better to drink cow's milk or to eat brussels sprouts to have strong bones and avoid fractures and osteoporosis? Our (main-stream and home) culture teaches us to respond: "Milk!" emphatically at a question like that.  Why? I'm not sure. It could have something to do with the hundred million dollars annually spent by The National Fluid Milk Processors Promotion Board in advertisements telling us that it does a body good, that milk mustaches are cool (celebrities are doing it), and that it promotes HEALTH. Is that so?

The following information is taken from John Robbin's book "The Food Revolution," Chapter 6 'Got BS?.'
I hope that you all find it as useful and eye-opening as I have.

"A central point of the dairy ads, of course, is that we need to drink milk products to get enough calcium.  'For humans to get the calcium they need from food without consuming milk products,' says the Dairy Bureau, 'is extremely difficult. One of the reasons is bio-availability.  The calcium in many other foods, like most fruits, vegetables and legumes, is poorly absorbed by the human digestive system. That is, it's not bio-available.'

Calcium absorption rates (according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition):
Brussels sprouts  63.8 percent
Broccoli  52.6 percent
Kale  50 percent
Cow's Milk  32 percent
...
"One cup of milk contains 300 mg of calcium, but only 32 percent (96mg) of it is bio-available...you can derive this amount of bio-available calcium from 1.5 cups of cooked broccoli." 
...

'A low calcium intake in the children of vegans is a cause for major concern' - Dairy Bureau of Canada

'Beyond weaning age, children and adults of various countries and food cultures subsist on diets differing markedly in their calcium content. These differences in calcium intake ... have not been demonstrated to have consequences for nutritional health.' -Health Canada's Nutrition Recommendations
...
From a 1994 study (see book for footnotes on all this information) "Elderly people with the highest dairy product consumption actually had double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption. 
Another study (funded by the National Dairy Council) "in which post-menopausal women drank three additional 8-ounce glasses of skim milk compared to the control group of postmenopausal women...The results found that the women who drank the extra milk actually lost more calcium from their bones than the control group of women who did not drink it"
...
"Many studies have shown that the more animal protein we eat, the more calcium we lose. The more plant foods people eat (particularly fruits and vegetables) the stronger their bones, and the fewer fractures they experience. The more animal foods people eat, on the other hand, the weaker their bones and the more fractures they experience."
...
"Average American's estimate when asked what percentage of adults worldwide do not drink milk: 1 percent.

Actual number of adults worldwide who do not drink milk: 65 percent."
...
"Have you noticed that the dairy industry bombards us with ads claiming milk products are necessary to prevent osteoporosis, but never make such claims on milk cartons?...It's because the FDA won't allow them. The ads are subject only to comparatively lax Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, while the cartons are subject to FDA regulations that would require the statements to be backed up with facts."
...
"It is misleading to assume that all people have the same calcium requirements.  A person with a low intake of animal protein and salt might have half the calcium requirements of a person eating a typical North American diet. If you are sedentary, drink cola beverages, eat too much salt, and/or eat significant amounts of animal protein, your bones are going to suffer for it, in which case it might be a good idea to consume increased levels of calcium. That may help a bit, but don't expect the extra calcium to make up for bad habits.  If you are concerned about your health and the strength of your bones, it would be a far better idea to exercise regularly, avoid drinking cola beverages, eat a moderate amount of salt, and reduce if not stop eating meat and other animal protein. You'll feel better, your bones will be stronger, and your overall health will improve in many other ways, as well."

-----------------------------------------

That's a lot of information for you all to think about! I will be writing again tomorrow, but on a lighter note, exploring the vegan world of Etsy and celebrating my shops 1st anniversary!

Be well...eat your broccoli!
EcoVegan

Foodie Vegan......in the nick of time!

So I didn't really make my Wednesdsay blog deadline......It just hit midnight.....dammit! Sorry faithful followers! Foodie Vegan had a busy day and had a dinner guest (to whom I served a vegan meal to!) tonight. My guest has left, dishes are washed, and I'm on the couch writing my blog as I watch the Food Network! I'll be honest with you all....I did not have a plan for my blog today....so I will just share with you some vegan tidbits from my week!!

Vegan Tidbit Numero Uno
-This week I had the pleasure of trying the Tofurkey Roast and Gravy. I found it as I was browsing the Trader Joes aisle (it was $9.99). It is a round Tofurkey roast that is stuffed with a wild rice dressing and comes with a "giblet" gravy. It was DELECTABLE and really tasted like Thanksgiving. I thought the flavors were authentic and interesting and made me reminisce for my old Thanksgiving meals. We served it with mashed potatoes and had a meal for 4 at about cost of about $12 total.

Vegan Tidbit Numero Dos
-Last week I promised to share with you a quinoa recipe that I tried. I found the recipe in the November issue of Better Nutrition magazine. I altered it a bit to make it vegan. I LOVED this......a great alternative to oatmeal.

1/3 cup of quinoa, rinsed
1 Tbsp organic honey (or agave nectar if you're 100% vegan)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup blueberries
1 banana, sliced
1/3 cup milk alternative

Combine quinoa and 2/3 cup of water in small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer covered for about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in honey and cinnamon, Divide between 2 bowls. Top with blueberries, banana, and milk.

Vegan Tidbit Numero Tres
-Tonight I had the fun task of having a dinner guest and having about 45 minutes total to plan and make the meal! I had to work with what I had on hand in the fridge/pantry. I boiled some edamame in the shells and sprinkled with sea salt as a light starter. And then I decided on pasta.....linguine in a light tomato sauce. The tidbit I will share with you that I discovered today was a little thing called "Trader Giotto's Italian Tomato Starter Sauce".....holy hell, that stuff is amazing. It can be purchased at Trader Joes for under $3 and is a good base for pretty much any pasta sauce, pizza sauce, etc. The ingredients are: chopped Italian tomatoes, fresh garlic, fresh onion, and EVOO. I added a couple pressed cloves of garlic, a chopped green bell pepper, some red wine, basil/oregano/parsley, and salt/pepper. It was a perfect light sauce and I loved the consistency of the tomatoes.....I prefer it to most other canned diced tomatoes.....trust me, it's amazing. I highly recommend it!

I hope you enjoyed the vegan tidbits tonight! To me being a foodie can include rare and sometimes pricey ingredients and long, complicated recipes, but it can also include just plain good, wholesome, and cruelty free food that everyone loves! I like a good mix of both. Good night everyone......

12.15.2009

Farm Sanctuary's Holiday Tips and Recipes


Hello! The holidays are tough times for those of us who are trying to be vegans because they represent traditions that are not so animal friendly. Following are a few tips I got from Farm Sanctuary's site which I find to be very useful. Me and a few others around me have already made generous donations and will be doing volunteer work this month.

On another note, this past weekend my family and I visited some friends for breakfast. We offered to bring a vegan dish so as to not inconvenience the cook and it worked out quite well. We brought baked green apples, dried persimmons, fruit salad and made tofu scramble (a recipe from "The Vegan Table" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau http://www.vegantable.com/ ). The tofu scramble was a hit and the guests were happy to have some left over for later.

For recipes, check out:

Here are some tips for how to get through the holidays in one piece, spreading compassion while you’re at it!

  • If your holiday celebration is going to include animal products, why not WOW your friends and family by bringing a deliciousvegan meal and dessert to share? Some people say that the best way to advocate veganism is through yummy food!
  • Consider hosting a vegan potluck for your friends and family as a holiday celebration.
  • Bring vegan baked goods to your office or class to help celebrate the holidays compassionately. Remember to bring some copies of the recipes to share.
  • Rather than buying material gifts, why not sponsor a farm animal from Farm Sanctuary for your loved ones? Why not also ask for that in return this year?
  • If material gifts are a must for someone’s wish list, shop at Farm Sanctuary’s online store for fabulous reads, adorable stuffed animals, hip hoodies, and other apparel. Put it all together to make a compassionate gift basket!
  • With the holidays approaching, many ACTivists find refuge in volunteering as a means of channeling holiday angst. Why not schedule a leafleting at your nearby mall or church?
  • Set up a table at your local health food store, community center or library to educate people about going veg for life.
  • Be sure to check in with your ACTivist friends, and plan a veg-friendly get-together or outing where you can all gripe and laugh together.
  • Blog about it! Blogging is a great way to put all your thoughts out there in a safe and supportive way; not to mention it can be a very effective advocacy tool!
  • Spend time with an animal. Being around animals can be a very peaceful and joyous experience for both of you, and can remind you of why you are an ACTivist.
http://www.farmsanctuary.org/get_involved/act/activist_holidaysurvivalguide.html

12.11.2009

How I navigate a non-vegan world.

I think the title inherently assumes I am doing this…..and doing it perfectly and succeeding! Quite the opposite!! I usually struggle daily……some days more than others.

I wanted to talk today about a couple struggles I deal with in being vegan. Granted, this makes it seem that I am on this long, hard, and arduous journey, and that it’s nothing but obstacles and roadblocks in the way of my success. That is not the case. Some things in my life make it conducive to me being vegan (i.e. my love of cooking), while others continue to make it a struggle (i.e. my career-planning and attending events). Here are some of the biggest struggles I have had to deal with:

Struggle #1-In my cozy little home I have created this comfortable and nurturing vegan kitchen. Granted, I do live with 2 non-vegans, but for the most part, I do the cooking in the house and most of the things in the kitchen are mine. The struggle begins the moment I step outside of my front door. God forbid I’m hungry and haven’t planned ahead what I’m going to eat! I am faced with endless choices of which very few are vegan……or at least that is how it seems.

SOLUTION-I ALWAYS pack some food into my portable insulated lunchbox. You can pick one of these up at Target or if you’re into reusing things and saving $$, check a local garage sale or thrift store. You are sure to find one. Even if I am sure of the layout of my day and don’t think I’ll need any snacks or sustenance, I always pack something because you never know. Sometimes your tummy tells you you’re hungry, and you can’t do anything about it! Some of my favorite “on the go snacks”: pita/hummus, chips/salsa, nuts, all natural fruit strips/bars (can be found at your local health food store or Trader Joes), a square of dark chocolate, fresh fruit, etc.

Struggle #2-As an event planner, I am frequently attending events, working at events, etc. If I am working, this sometimes means long hours on-site (sometimes up to 12 hours). If I am attending events, this usually means an open bar and an endless array of food. The obvious problem is that most food choices are not vegan. While not everyone is an event planner, I’m sure most of you go to events, parties, etc.

SOLUTION-When I am working at an event, I follow my solution above….my portable insulated lunch pail. It is my tried and true friend. When I am attending an event, it’s not so easy. If the event involves a sit down dinner, I am usually able to let the host/planner know my dietary needs and they are happy to accommodate. However, when you are dealing with appetizers, passed hors douvres, and food stations, it is a bit more tricky. And I don’t really have a good answer yet, except to have eaten before you go to an event like this. You know that probably 70-80% of the food choices will not be vegan, so there’s no sense in showing up hungry and taking the chance of making a poor food decision. So I always eat something in the car on the way there (to be as full as possible) and TRY to limit my food intake there. I did attend an event a couple days ago and had an unfortunate tortellini incident……definitely not vegan, but oh so good. The problem was that I didn’t eat ahead of time.

Of course, I think the biggest thing to remember is why you are vegan, want to be vegan, or are trying to be vegan. We all have our reasons for doing this, so that should and can be your biggest motivation!

Enjoy the weekend everyone. This coming Wednesday I will be sharing with you a couple quinoa recipes I’m going to try out. Signing off, Foodie Vegan.

12.10.2009

RAWesome knowledge


This week I attended a Raw Foods Workshop hosted by two talented, young, raw believers.  I say believers because it seems that we're hit by different 'ideal diets' left and right, where it's often hard to choose which combination best suits our nutritional and mental/spiritual/ethical needs, but these two presenters were true prophets of RAW!



Dustin and Disa introduced me to many new "Super Foods" like: raw cacao beans, spirulina, goji berries, maca, pink salt, etc, which they profess elevate your health and energy.

Raw Cacao and Goji Berries - each brings out the complex flavors of the other!

Raw food provides more readily available enzymes than cooked food, which keep digestion running smoothly and allows your body to instantly absorb many useful nutrients.  A 'voracious eater' in the crowd confessed that having a 16 oz "super food" smoothie in the morning kept him satisfied and energized for most of the day--not an easy feat considering our daily rituals of poor carb-riden breakfasts and continuous snacking!

Dustin and Disa both made their own favorite smoothies (check out Disa's Green Smoothie recipe below) and finally they asked the crowd to help them create a delicious raw soup which was named "Pollen Soup" after the studio where the workshop was held.


Pollen Soup - made of a variety of veggies and super foods
with a (spicy!) dehydrated veggie cracker made by Dustin





Disa's Green Smoothie recipe
40% greens, 60% fruit (pick greens and fruit combinations that are to your liking, we had spinach and mango/pineapple/coconut)
1 1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla powder
1/2 tbsp maca powder
1 1/2 cup coconut water
2-3 dates for sweetness
blend really really well to desired consistency.... yum!
Disa has replaced her energy-deficient breakfasts with this smoothie and claims it keeps you energized all morning long--she even gave her coworkers a demonstration on how to make this great smoothie after tiring of them asking "what's that green stuff?" every morning and some have joined her ritual.

Returning to the idea I mentioned above, I'm not about to go raw vegan all of a sudden. One of my main reservations is that many of these super foods are grown, harvested, packaged and shipped internationally, and as an environmentally conscious, farmer's-market devotee, I would have a hard time basing my diet on food that has to travel such a long distance (not to mention other possible ethical concerns out of reach).
That being said, this workshop enlightened me to be open to other dietary possibilities, and you should too, no matter what your current 'diet' is... mix and match to your liking! Not only will you learn more about food and nutrition, but you might even notice an effect on your health and wellbeing.  How rawesome would that be?

12.09.2009

2 GREAT vegan recipes



Happy hump day……....Foodie vegan here to share 2 GREAT recipes with you all this week. I have been sick for just over a week……and LUCKILY I had made a pot of three bean chili and non-dairy cornbread, so that tided me over for a few days. If I didn’t have that pot ‘o chili, I might have made some very bad food decisions! The rest of my week was pretty good….I have been in the cooking mood a lot and that greatly helps remind me why I want to be vegan. I get to eat great, tasty food that also adheres to my beliefs (being healthy, being good to the planet, and being compassionate to animals). Here are the long awaited recipes!

The first one is “Jill’s Famous Bok Choy Salad”. Now, I will say that I have no idea who Jill is!! We got this recipe in NY from my boyfriend’s cousin (I presume Jill is one of her friends). She has lost a ton of weight and is a busy mom of 2, so is always looking for easy, fast meals. We fell in love with this salad and demanded the recipe! The part we love is that the dressing and the “crunchies” can be made ahead of time so that the salad can be assembled in less than 5 minutes when hunger arises. Here is a wonderful picture of this delectable salad. I DARE you to try it…..you WILL lick the spoon! The bok choy salad is the second picture above. My tech-retarded self couldn't figure out how to insert the pictures within my post!

Jill’s Famous Bok Choy Salad

Dressing:
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 tbs of low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c sugar (can use less but more than 1/4 c needed)-I used ¼ cup and it was fine.

Boil all these ingredients. Let cool. Refrigerate.

Crunchies:
1/2 c Earth Balance or other butter substitute
3/4 c slivered almonds
2 tbs of sesame seeds
1-1/2 packages of broken ramen noodles (plain, throw away seasoning pkts

Melt butter, add and sauté slivered almonds, sesame seeds, and ramen noodles until lightly brown. Let cool and drain on paper towels. Store in Tupperware/Ziploc in the fridge.

Salad:
1 large bok choy, thinly chopped (including greens)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced

Combine:
Salad, noodle mixture and dressing. ENJOY!!!

The next recipe I am going to share with you is one I whipped up myself after having some phenomenal green beans in NY for Thanksgiving…I tried to recreate them as best as possible. This is the first picture above!



Roasted Green Beans with Shallots

1 lb green beans (trimmed)
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Zest of about ½ of a lemon

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Start by rinsing and trimming the green beans. I like to cut them in about 2” increments. Remove 4 cloves of garlic from their skins and smash them with the side of a knife. On a cookie sheet put the green beans, smashed garlic, thinly sliced shallot, salt/pepper, and olive oil. Mix together well and stick in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. When they come out of the oven, grate the lemon zest over them (gives them a nice fresh taste). I didn’t have any, but I think some small hazelnut pieces would taste delicious sprinkled on top! Bon Appetit!

How to turn this side dish into a main dish: I baked a potato, cut it open and put a little earth balance and put some green beans on top…..a very filling dinner!

I will see you all Friday for Wildcard day!

12.08.2009

Meatless Monday Original Recipe: Crafty Vegan's Easy Beet & Seeds Salad


Hello to all salad lovers and salad eaters! I would like to share a salad I made which actually turned out very good and it was easy. Easy is always good as I am not one that knows how to cook very well....not just yet. I have found that salads are simple and mostly made of all raw foods, and you can't get any healthier than that! Bon appetite!


Beet Salad

2-3 beets, peeled and grated
Tip: you can save the peels and then use them to dye some clothing!!
7 oz. of organic tofu or more, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 bunch of spinach
1-2 garlic cloves depending on what you like, I love garlic! finely chopped
1/2 1 lime to sprinkle on top
a bit of sesame oil
black sesame seeds
ground flax seeds

The amount of seeds to use for the salad is up to the "Cook". I like to use many because they are a great source of protein and many other things...please read below...

Here is some info about a few seeds I like to use a lot and the goodies they hold inside:

Sesame seeds: A good source of protein and calcium, 100g sesame seeds contain 26.4g protein, 12.6mg vitamin B3, 7.8mg iron, 131mg calcium and 10.3mg zinc.

Sunflower seeds: A good source of potassium and phosphorous, 100g sunflower seeds also contain 24g protein and 7.1mg iron and 120mg calcium.

Flax seeds: High quality flax seed is the highest food source of crucially needed Omega 3 fatty acids. It is also highest in lignans, special protective antioxidants. Flax is also rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and it has the best soluble fiber as well as insoluble fiber.

Ahimsa: a Sanskrit term meaning to do no harm, a rule of conduct that bars the killing or injuring of living beings. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences.

12.07.2009

Wannabe Vegan Here!

Well, its the same story this week. I struggle with wanting to be vegan everyday!! My goal this week is to watch Earthlings and Food Inc. I need to be reminded about why this is so important! I haven't been exposed to anything "vegan friendly" since I read Skinny Bitch, which made me go veg for awhile last year. I'm the type of person that needs to be re-motivated more often, otherwise I justify bad behaviors to myself all the time!!

Hopefully I can get my willpower in check!

Peace,
WV

12.04.2009

Concentration Camp Chickens and Their Eggs by Crafty Vegan Sister


This hen was rescued from a factory farm after her body was devastated by forced molting.
Forced molting is the process in which most big industry egg businesses will use to reduce the amount of time the chickens spend molting. It is when all of the chicken’s food and water sources are denied and they are reduced daylight hours until the chickens feathers begin to fall off. This is a very hard process for the birds putting a lot of stress on them and the mortality rate is very high. The benefits of this practice is it takes a few days instead of weeks and when the birds begin to lay again the eggs will be bigger and there will be a higher amount of eggs produced. (This information was found on www.goveg.com)

The following information is about chickens and was taken from the book "The Food Revolution" by John Robbins, author of "Diet for a New America". Copyright 2001, pages 190-198....

In US egg production, seven or eight hens are typically crammed in each 18"x20"cage with barely enough room to simply lie down. Their wing span is about 30", meaning there'd barely be room for a hen to spread her wings if the cage were twice as big, and if she was alone in it. This crowded space obliterates their innate sense of pecking order. To which the industry responds by "debeaking", the cutting off of one-third of each bird's beak so that they won't kill each other in their frustration. This procedure leaves the birds so mutilated that it's hard for them to eat, some starve to death. More than 99 percent of hens who lay eggs are debeaked and kept in cages where the excrement from the birds in the upper tiers collects above them, often falling through onto their heads. Another problem is that the bird's toes and claws often become permanently entangled in the wire on which they are forced to stand. The producers typically handle this by cutting off the birds' toes and claws. When egg production declines, the hens are often subjected to a process called "forced molting", in which they are starved They loose about 1/4 of their weight and their immune system is weakened. This is why they are more vulnerable to Salmonella bacteria, which is then passed to humans through their eggs.
Roosters have very little use in the egg business. Immediately after they hatch they are either thrown into garbage bags to be suffocated, or hurled alive into a giant meat grinder, then fed back to chickens or other livestock. More baby male chicks are disposed of in this way in the US annually, than there are people in the country.
Broilers, the term given to chickens raised for meat are a growing industry...about 8 billion are killed for food in the US each year, a number larger than the entire human population of the planet. Traditionally, it took a broiler 21 weeks to reach 4-pound market weight. But today, that they are systematically bred for obesity, it takes only seven weeks for them to reach the same weight. They grow so rapidly that the heart and lungs are not developed well enought to support the remainder of the body, resulting in congestive heart failure and tremendous death losses. About 90% of chickens are so obese by the age of 6 weeks that they can barely walk.
Free Range and Natural labels don't mean a thing. Unless it says "cage-free" however, it's almost certain that the eggs came from caged birds. By USDA's standards a fast food burger is natural. If a carton of eggs is labeled "vegetarian" or "organic" all it means is that the birds were not fed meat, it has nothing to do with the way the chickens are treated or housed.
The only certain way not to partake of the misery that pervades factory farm eggs and poultry is to avoid commercial chicken and eggs altogether. As more of us move in this direction, fewer birds will be forced to endure such cruelty. No living creature should be forced to endure such tortured conditions. All living creatures deserve basic respect.

The following is a link to a free download for the movie Food, Inc., you don't want to miss this film!!

I would like to end with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:
"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way it's animals are treated."

12.03.2009

i'm native, oh so native

Yesterday I was lucky enough to pay a visit to the Native Foods restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA with my sister (crafty vegan) and a friend.  I had been there once before for a quick dinner, so I didn't have time to really notice the array of appetizing dishes and other subtleties (we didn't see the word "vegan" explicit in the storefront nor the menu... great so as not to scare away the non-vegans*). 
The food was AWESOME... unfortunately, the photos below don't do the food justice since we only had our camera-phones to document the beautiful and delicious plates, but imagine great resolution and saturated colors:
My friend enjoyed a cup of the daily soup (Ecuadorian potato) and the Gandhi Bowl.


Crafty vegan enjoyed the "Rockin' Morrocan"


I ate my share of vegan deliciousness with a cup of the soup of the day, and the Chicken Run Ranch Sandwich and we all shared a side of sweet potato fries



I highly encourage all of you in Southern California to visit one of the many Native Foods restaurants. It's a great business, providing healthy and delicious food with conscience. They have an amazing website to boot, with information about their products, beliefs and information related to miscellaneous vegan knowledge.

I don't have room for much luxury in my life, but eating well has always been a priority so I decided to shell out the $25 and buy Chef Tanya's comprehensive cookbook (the 3rd in my vegan-cookbook library).  I'm excited to try out the many many recipes included, not to mention making my own seitan! In the following weeks and months I will entice you with whatever Native recipes I make...they're guaranteed to make you re-think 'healthy' 'vegan' food!

I'll leave you with a helpful list from the Native Foods Newsletter, "7 Days 7 Ways to Eat More Vegetables"

  1. Walk through the Farmer's Market and find things you've never seen before! Ask the growers questions, or ask someone buying something what they do with it. Make it fun!
  2. Roots are for roasting. Find fall root vegetables (onions, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc), cut them up, toss with olive oil, sea salt, fresh herbs, and bake at 400 until soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Yum!
  3. Burn them. Well, kind of. There is a secret to good cauliflower and that is to burn it.  Separate a cauliflower head into 2 inch pieces and put on cookie sheet (not Teflon), drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. 450 degree oven for 50 minutes and call me in the morning!
  4. Steam your greens or blanch in some rapid boiling salted water as this softens the texture and warms them. Top with a great sauce.
  5. Mash 'em. Mash some cooked greens or any veggie into a mashed potato or mashed sweet potato or yam recipe.  Adds another color and/or flavor dimension and you can eat it with a spoon (a.k.a. easy).
  6. Puree is not for babies anymore. Any cooked vegetable in a blender with a litle olive oil, sea salt and herbs or other spices of interest. You may need to dilute with a little broth to desired consistency.
  7. Make a soup. Get into making a soup one day per week. A great way to use vegetables you were not getting to in the refrigerator. Find a vegatable of interest and look for a soup recipe that includes it. A scoop of a whole grain or chunk of sourdough garlic toast on the side makes for a perfect meal.
happy eating!

*taken from their newsletter: "It's the vegan restaurant for vegans and non-vegans alike" says Daniel Dolan (Chef Tanya's business partner)

FYI: title references this ridiculous video... :)

12.02.2009



Hello everyone! SUCH a week it has been…..but a good one overall! I was in NY for Thanksgiving and for my boyfriend’s cousins bat mitzvah. What a fun time that was. I want to die and be reborn a Jewish kid! They get to have one crazy party for turning all of 13 years old! It was a 3 day affair…..and I can say that food was a MAJOR part of it all. I’d be lying if I said that I stuck to my vegan roots all weekend, but I think I did pretty well considering. My weaknesses were:

#1-the catered Thanksgiving dinner (all vegetarian, but not vegan). My fav dish was green beans sautéed with shallots and hazelnuts. I will test out a recipe this week and share next week.

#2-cocktail hour after the bat mitzvah with buffet stations, passed hors douvres, a 3 course meal, etc. And it didn’t help that I had approx 10 glasses of champagne! No, that’s not a typo……you heard me right….10 glasses! Needless to say, a couple mini grilled cheese sandwiches FELL in my mouth.

Anywho, this was my first major vacation since turning vegan, so I got to see the easy and the hard stuff one has to deal with living in a non-vegan society.

Some quick thoughts/funny moments from the weekend:

*Going to Smith and Wolensky (one of the most well-known steak houses in NYC) for dinner one night. I told my boyfriends Uncle (a jewish New Yorker in his late 60’s) that I was vegetarian and asked him for suggestions and he said “I know you’re a vegetarian, BUT you’ll LOVE their hamburger….it’s one of the best in the city”……ummm, no thanks. For the record, I did end up with a baked potato (with NON vegan toppings).

*Next week I will be sharing a recipe with everyone for a simple, easy bok choy salad that is TO DIE FOR. My boyfriend’s cousin shared it with us, and we are obsessed with it. It is super easy to make and very, very tasty.

*One thing that I learned this weekend (ok, lets face it….I knew it already) is that it is hard for me to make good vegan decisions when I am drunk, tipsy, and/or under the influence! That’s when you let your senses guide you and you get sucked in to “no bueno” food. Solution: Fill up a bit before your decision making skills are altered……better decisions are always made while sober!

*Yesterday morning in bed (did I forget to mention that I came home from NY sick) I had the opportunity to watch Earthlings. And I can say that it was one of the hardest, most heart-wrenching movies I have ever seen. Earthlings is a movie that talks about the exploitation of animals in 5 ways: pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and medical testing. I felt that it really, truly explained what it means to be vegan (though without using that word, interestingly enough) and to be compassionate towards animals. It was really eye opening to see how much people exploit animals in their every day lives ….in fact, it was shocking. So this movie made me realize that it’s not JUST about what we eat, but there are so many other changes we can make in our lives to be more compassionate to ALL Earthlings, including the animals in which we share this planet with. Peace and love for everyone!!

12.01.2009

Thanksgiving Tales and a bit of Food Inc. by Crafty Vegan Hermana

Courtesy of http://www.foodincmovie.com/
Hey all! Buen dia, Martes! Last thursday I celebrated Thanksgiving with my boyfriends family...a very numerous and warm group of people in Palo Alto...what a beautiful city...I love North Cal, the red, orange and yellow trees are a site for sore eyes. The food was deliciously sweet...we had more veggie and vegan dishes than expected...fresh raw veggies to snack on with hummus, mashed potatoes topped with cranberry sauce, mashed yams, broussel sprouts with green beens and almonds, veggie ratatouille and many salads. The family was very accomadating towards our veganism and made sure we were not going to be hungry, which we were not , I can assure you our bellies were delighted!!!

Oh, and for next Thanksgiving or any holiday, check out http://www.tofurkey.com/ for hundreds of vegan recipes, search under "holidays".

Now I would like to share a bit of information about Food, Inc....a film/documentary about our food and where it comes from. We watched the first part last night and I would like to share a bit with you. The meat industry is a large monopoly, about 3-4 large companies control more than 80% of all meat production and packing. They set high standards for the farmers, pressuring them to make upgrades and buy new machinery and if those terms are not met they terminate the contracts....wether the farmers agree or not, they still end up in debt for the rest of their lives. For example, doing upgrades on 2 large chicken houses could cost around $550,000 and the average farmer makes $18,000 per year. The conditions the chickens live in are horrendous. They are crammed in small cages, surrounded by feces and other dead chickens, which opens doors for the spread of diseases and more. I strongly suggest you watch this and tell anyone you care about to watch it to...thank you to those of you who suggested it to me.

Proxima estación esperanza...